By Olasunkanmi Akoni
It is unlawful and punishable under Lagos state laws for anybody to cut down any tree without permission from the state Ministry of Environment.
The warning by the state government to sanction individuals who cut trees indiscriminately is meant to stem the negative impacts imminent from persistent abuse of the environment. In particular, it is aimed to stem growing concern on climate change, and destructive human action on the environment.
And when the advocacy for tree planting and greening started, many who did not understand the great challenges that nature had in store for this part of the world, questioned the value of spending money on tree planting and preservation.
The law also tasked everyone that it is not enough to plant a tree, but to preserve existing ones and protect them from those who might wish to cut them down for any reason.
Trees play a critical role in maintaining environmental equilibrium and human comfort. They constitute an essential component of the physical environment, such that their unbridled exploitation has far reaching negative consequences on both the environment and man. A healthy environment makes for a healthy living.
Functions of trees
The importance of trees cannot be over emphasized. Trees are on biological record as the largest and longest living organisms on earth. We need trees for sustenance. They act as nutrient and chemical factory. They absorb water and salt minerals from the soil; transport them to the leaves where they combine with carbon dioxide from the air and, by means of photosynthesis, produce the nutrients which feed the tree. The vegetal matter is in turn eaten by man and animals.
By the same process, trees produce chemicals, seeds and fruits that are of great utility to man. Over and above that, trees absorb carbon, which is the main green house gas (GHG) from the air. They thus serve as carbon sink. Without the critical role played by trees, the earth surface temperature would be higher than normal. Trees also protect the soil and promote microbial activity within the forest complex, thereby enriching the soil with mineral nutrients.
Therefore, Fashola administration has, since its inception over five years ago, been involved in aggressive tree planting campaign in different parts of Lagos metropolis. Apart from the usefulness, the action has added aesthetics to parts of the city. But more action is needed in that direction.
Flagging off the Year 2012 state-wide Tree Planting campaign day, with the theme; “Plant a Tree for a better Climate” in Lagos, at the weekend, Governor Babatunde Fashola, disclosed how his administration stopped Federal Government agents from cutting down hundreds of trees at Igbogbo area of Ikorodu area, in order to pave the way for the installation of National Integrated Power Project, NIPP, infrastructure.
At Ojota, Olusosun Landfill site, one of the sites where trees were planted, the management of the Lagos Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, led by its Managing Director, Mr. Ola Oresanya, led other staff of the agency to plant over 50 trees of different species around the area.
Governor Fashola, explained that in Lagos, it is unlawful and punishable under state laws for anybody to cut down any tree without permission from the Ministry of Environment.
Also, Chairman of the Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan also led council staff to launch tree-planting campaign, tagged: “Me and my tree” by planting hundreds of threes across the council area..
Though, Fashola’s government had in the last five years of tree regeneration and reforestation planted over three million trees across the state, the governor, urged everyone to go out and plant a tree, stressing that cutting of trees threatens not only the economy and health, but also the planet. “All patriotic Lagosians should support the government’s move, in the interest of public health and order.”
On that strength, the governor explained to the gathering that recently attempt by PHCN authorities in Lagos to cut down about hundreds of different kinds of trees at Igbogbo in Ikorodu was averted when it was learnt that they were going to cut down the trees in order to allow for infrastructure to be installed in its ongoing implementation of NIPP.
“When we got wind of this, I directed the Commissioner for the Environment, Mr Tunji Bello to stop the move which we were able to achieve through their cooperation. It was later agreed that the trees should be pruned back and not cut down.” Respectively, Fashola’s renewed campaign on timely reforestation, stressed that the essence of planting trees in the environment can no-longer be over-emphasized, hence, the urgent need by residents to complement government’s drive in its determination to green the environment thereby making it a better, safer place to live in.
He said: “You can see extreme rainfall in the last 48 hours and not more than 50,000 people have been displaced in Japan. You can see the rain in Mississippi and in Newcastle, and there is still more to come.
“ We can see now that the solutions we put in place last year has reduced the flood we experienced last year in some areas including Agege, Lekki and Arigbanla and Idi Araba. There is no flood there again despite the heavy rains. It means that the solutions we are implementing are working.
“We have not gotten to some areas, but we would get there. I understand that there is a problem in Alpha Beach but we would get there, let me say however that before we come, there is a lot that you can do to help yourself. Plant a tree today, nurture a tree, protect a tree, do not allow any citizen to cut trees”
Tractor to transplant trees
Fashola, added that the state government has procured modern tractors to transplant tree,” it could move one tree from one location to the other without killing the tree.”
The governor spoke at the event graced by Environment Ambassadors like Dr. Wilson Badejo , Nollywood star Mr. Jide Kosoko and Mrs. Faderera Williams. A landscape architect said, “whether it is a citizen or a visitor, we have made it unlawful to cut down a tree without obtaining a permit.” Fashola reminded the residents that the trees would be the people’s first line of defense against flood, erosion and heavy wind that could wreak havoc in the environment.
The state Commissioner for the Environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, in his address said, tree would help reduce the effects of greenhouse by shading houses and office buildings, while creating vital habitat and promoting diversity. He added that this year, the types of trees to be planted are Ashoka(Police type), Ashoka (Hands up), Ficus (yellow) and Melaina adding that the trees have been chosen for site specifications.